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Musings on zombies that feel

Promotional image of the main character Kieren Walker from the three-part zombie series "In The Flesh." (BBC)
Promotional image of the main character Kieren Walker from the three-part zombie series “In The Flesh.” (BBC)

There are many reasons why I am not becoming a doctor: the years of studying, the odd work hours, my intellectual disqualifications, but most importantly… blood. Blood and I do not get along. I can look at my own from a cut but the moment blood is coming out of another person’s body, I shut down. Nothing else can happen until the blood stops coming out of that person’s body and no other thought can go through my head besides “Blood. There is blood. Blood.” For this reason, I do not get along with the horror movie genre or even most medical drama TV shows. Yet, I am excited to watch BBC’s new three-part series “In The Flesh.”

The series follows reformed zombie Kieren Walker, who is returning to his village and has to cope with alienation from his friends, family, and community. Kieren didn’t fit in from the beginning. He was an “alt kid” who developed a strong friendship (although this label is questionable) with his best mate Rick. After Rick is shipped off to Afghanistan, Kieren is taken over by PDS (aka Partially Deceased Syndrome). He roams the country as a rabid zombie, then is pulled into a Zombie Recovery program which brings him home to his parents once he starts to “feel human” again.

Kieren’s half-dead difficulties are unique in that they are completely caused by social intolerance. The story doesn’t focus on exploring the greater, morbid nature of man. Rather it uses the zombie genre to analyze the hateful nature of the living. In addition, the show explores the implied nature of Kieren’s sexuality; he has lived as a black sheep his entire life and is now faced with the organized hate of the Human Volunteer Force, a church-run “rotter”-hating group. They’re not quite parallel to the Westboro Baptist Church in radicalism but do show the connections we see throughout history between isolated communities and close-mindedness.

The rise of the zombies (pun intended) in pop culture has created an interesting mirror to society’s concerns. Since I avoid watching horror movies, I often avoid studying them too. However, whether it was our pre-9/11 fear of biological warfare fueling this zombie-obsession or simply a trend to replace pirates in Hollywood, I can’t say. Other movies about the emotional connection to zombies like “I Am Legend” or “Warm Bodies” have explored themes like love and loss. On the other hand, we see iPhone apps like “Zombies, Run!” which uses the fictional threat of a zombie attack to motivate you to workout harder and faster. While death is often romanticized, zombie movies and products bring a unique point of view.

It’s hard to tell whether “In The Flesh” will provide a thought-provoking look at the current state of human rights or if it will just bring another TV show with Twilight-style cinematography and pretty people with British accents. It’s a lot like how I felt after I saw the pilot of Glee. Either way, don’t miss out on what is bound to have plenty of press coverage, weird mash-up blogs, and (probably already has) fanfictions. Check out “In the Flesh” airing on BBC (eventually available online) on March 17.

Watch the trailer here: